Autosport (UK) - - RACE CENTRE -

Trevor and Ja­nine weren’t ex­pect­ing this. Walk­ing out of Beach­side Guest House on Llan­dudno’s South Pa­rade on Sun­day morn­ing, they were con­fronted by a dif­fer­ent world. Bags in hand, the jour­ney home to St Albans was halted. At least for half an hour.

Right on cue, Thierry Neuville came to town in a style no­body in Bri­tain had ever seen be­fore. He lifted off and threw his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC at the first chi­cane on the A456. With the car un­set­tled, he was back hard on the throt­tle, drift­ing the thing be­tween the bales be­fore re­peat­ing the process for the se­cond chi­cane 100 yards down the road.

The car’s ma­chine-gun-fire anti-lag bounced off the walls, and the pure noise of a mod­ern-day World Rally Car caused bags to be dropped, fingers to be put in ears and jaws to slacken. It’s fair to say Trevor and Ja­nine had never seen any­thing like this.

“What is it?” Trevor asked, trans­fixed. Donut com­pleted at the end of Glod­daeth Street, Neuville was back head­ing our way. Trail­ing the throt­tle through the right-han­der onto the seafront where the fin­ish was wait­ing, this glo­ri­ous blue-an­do­r­ange sen­sory in­va­sion once again ex­ploded un­used fuel as the turbo con­tin­ued to spin. A flash of flame ac­com­pa­nied half a turn of lock and the noise and com­mo­tion were gone. At least for the next two min­utes.

Hert­ford­shire could wait. The WRC had found two more fans. World-class mo­tor­sport ar­rived on Bri­tish streets last Sun­day, and it couldn’t have been more wel­come. Rally GB man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ben Tay­lor and his team had worked for a year for that mo­ment, and many hadn’t seen their beds as they put the stage to­gether on Satur­day night. But when the sun rose on Sun­day morn­ing, the magic be­gan. DAVID EVANS

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